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Kinect reverse-engineered; open driver available adafruit.com
138 points by jgrahamc 2 hours ago   33 comments top 6
19 points by st3fan 1 hour ago 1 reply      
So much for "With Kinect, Microsoft built in numerous hardware and software safeguards designed to reduce the chances of product tampering" ... :-)
6 points by iamwil 1 hour ago 6 replies      
The code for the camera.c is here:

I've always wondered how people reverse engineer these things. Do they just guess what the interface might be based on the chips? Or are they able to probe it somehow through the port?

1 point by joshu 13 minutes ago 3 replies      
I would have thought there was some onboard CPU on the kinect, based on the power requirements (it can't be powered by a USB port alone.) If so, I suspect that any heavy lifting the unit does is probably by software that uploaded to the camera via USB at startup.

Anyone have further details?

6 points by markbao 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Oh man. Ordering one ASAP. So much cool stuff could be done with this. Going to try to create a gestures thing so I can browse my email from bed.
2 points by InclinedPlane 53 minutes ago 1 reply      
This is a misleading title. The Kinect sensor has been hacked, but Kinect proper is a combination of hardware and software. Arguably the more interesting aspects of Kinect are in the software.

That being said, this is still pretty cool, it'll be interesting to see what people come up with using this technology.

28 points by olalonde 1 hour ago 2 replies      
That was quick.
6 things I wish I knew the day I started Berklee sivers.org
49 points by gnosis 1 hour ago   13 comments top 7
13 points by dbrannan 1 hour ago 4 replies      
I really like the martial arts saying he uses:

"When you are not practicing, someone else is. When you meet him, he will win".

I remember years ago when I was on the swim team I had missed two practices. My coach said I had missed 4 practices, and I tried to correct him but he said, "You missed 2 practices, but your competition did not. So now you are 4 practices behind your competition."

I always remembered that.

1 point by thefool 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
The don't get stuck in the past bit is a fine line you have to walk.

Its dumb to spend your whole creative life simply reproducing ideas that seemed obvious decades ago. You can get a lot better if you know what other people did, and then consciously build on it.

1 point by RK 35 minutes ago 0 replies      
I attended music school for a short time after college (not Berklee). After having done a very tough BS in physics, I found the slow pace of the music theory classes pretty frustrating. I worked ahead, but not at the pace I probably could have. I very much agree with his point about not letting others (i.e. courses) set the pace.

Also, having another degree I think I had a different perspective than many of the high school graduates that where there with the idea of becoming a rock star or whatever. Most of the instructors, etc, made their livings by teaching, playing random gigs, doing essentially anonymous studio work, and odd jobs. Music is a very hard business. This reality seemed mostly lost on the majority of the students. I decided that I was probably happier to have a "real" job and play music on the side.

5 points by Zev 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
Stay offline. Shut off your computer. Stay in the shed.

I bookmarked this and stopped reading after that. Nice reminder to get back to coding for me.

2 points by sp4rki 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
how much does the world pay people to play video games?

Actually if you're good enough, plenty of money. It's not a matter of how many people do it, it's a matter of how much better you are than the many people that do it are. Amateur programmers shouldn't be making software for Bank of America, the same way an amateur musician shouldn't be playing for Dream Theater. The interesting thing is that one generally doesn't notice when you cross the line that makes you a professional, which is generally delimited by profitability.

If you can make money with your abilities it's because there are a bunch of people that can't, but never make the mistake of thinking that because a lot of people do something it means you can't make money off it. Oh and of course, the person with such abilities that doesn't take advantage of them to make money doesn't deserve them (with the exception of the multitalented who leverages a 'better' skill or the person leveraging those skills in a risk filled endeavor for larger profits).

1 point by tomjen3 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
>When you emerge in a few years, you can ask someone what you missed, and you'll find it can be summed up in a few minutes.

>The rest was noise you'll be proud you avoided.

Yes -- almost, but you will properly feel that there are one or two things that you didn't experience that you will miss not being a part of.

0 points by nolite 1 hour ago 0 replies      
this is my new hero
Go (lang): one year ago today golang.org
42 points by fogus 1 hour ago   12 comments top 2
9 points by Jabbles 1 hour ago 2 replies      
It continues to amaze me how much is packed into the Go language. It's not perfect, but the language specification is something that you can easily read in one go; something that is impossible for languages like C++. This results in more intuitive behaviour and, in my limited experience, fewer bugs.

I hope other language designers take note of Go and put more emphasis on simplicity in the future.

I would also be very interested to know which companies are using Go, and for what.

1 point by Detrus 41 minutes ago 2 replies      
Hopefully with people from the dynamic languages camp trying the language they'll clean up the syntax. It's ugly and makes a lot of the example code hard to read.
How I built 7books in under 4 weeks 7bks.com
31 points by revorad 1 hour ago   8 comments top 7
1 point by kyro 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
Jesus, 4 weeks? That's awesome. I've been learning on and off for a few years now, and have recently buckled down to finally get something done. What are some lessons you learned for building your next project?
4 points by nopal 41 minutes ago 1 reply      
Thank you, thank you for creating a product blog whose header links back to the actual product page.

It seems like every other product blog that I visit is intentionally keeping me from being able to navigate to the actual product!

2 points by zzzmarcus 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
I built a similar site - http://www.instabrary.com awhile back which is pretty much the exact same idea. It's running now but since I moved to Heroku you can't register. I should look into that.

The Rails source is here: https://github.com/marcus/Instabrary

2 points by vidar 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Good for you, it always warms my heart to see someone taking these first steps. Try to notice your own reactions, its good to be reminded of when you yourself were a novice.
3 points by Jabbles 1 hour ago 0 replies      
How much did that domain name cost?

These are similar, they may help inspire you for features:

Keep it up!

2 points by zachster 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is really great. I love the concept and simplicity.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Use the Amazon API to autosuggest book titles and author names.

2. Normalize the lists. That is, count up which books are recommended the most and use those statistics to recommend books.

3. List similar lists on each list :) Lists that list the same books might be related. If they list two or more of the same books, they're probably related.

But even if you don't change a thing, it's still a great little project!

2 points by neilkod 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
As someone who within the last two weeks picked up app engine and created an MVP of my own http://www.pubcontweets.com, I can not only relate to your story but also applaud you for sharing the it as well as your code. Thanks.
Gmail: Trap my contacts now (warning when exporting contacts to Facebook) google.com
361 points by bjonathan 8 hours ago   147 comments top 29
134 points by ck2 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I approve a warning 1000% - it's not like they are stopping you from exporting.

This will slow down my AOL-using friends who gave away all their contact info to Facebook and now I get pelted with spam from Facebook using my name and list of friends (and I don't even have a Facebook account).

Google has never spammed me or share my name and location, Facebook does it all the time, pick who's more evil.

22 points by portman 5 hours ago 5 replies      
Le sigh.

I think Google has lost sight of something very simple in this fracas:

With Google Contacts, the user directly manages his contacts' email addresses.

With Facebook, the user delegates management of email address to his contacts.

These are not the same thing. The Google contacts team seems to think that Facebook is an address book just like them. They are not. And to me, that failure to understand the differences is the root source of all this tomfoolery.


Edit after some very welcome discussion downstream:

On GMail, my contacts' email addresses are MY data.

On Facebook, my contacts' email addresses are NOT my data. The FACT that I am connected to my contacts is my data, but any information about those contacts does not belong to me.

This is why Facebook is not an address book, and pretending it as an address book where "your data gets stuck" is bound to lead to frustration for everyone.

3 points by phjohnst 3 hours ago 1 reply      
There is a point that hasn't yet been mentioned here about the fundamental difference between an address book, and Facebook.

Facebook is okay to be a dead-end for contacts' emails, since the email upload is used once to find others on the service. After that, if you need to contact someone else on Facebook, you can do so with a wall post or an inbox message. The email address is irrelevant.

With an address book, you need it to be portable, since the medium is accessible from many different locations and services.

The fact is that you dont need to get your friends' contact details out of Facebook. You sign up for Facebook to make Friends on Facebook and communicate over Facebook. Not to communicate over email, etc. (And certainly not over a rival network.) When you add someone to your address book, you do so to communicate with them over email, or phone, or whatever, which are inherently completely open and interconnected systems. [Surely there is a debate to be had here about the ubiquity of Facebook as a platform and that it should be open - could you imagine Facebook Clients? But I dont believe that's a debate about exporting existing contact info.]

To that end, Google warning users about the terminal nature of their exported data is unnecessary and only confuses the process of finding friends for users (who, by the way, aren't thinking about data portability, or building up an address book/contacts list on Facebook, they're thinking about making Friends on Facebook, to communicate over Facebook)

TL;DR: This whole mess doesn't matter, and Google is only making things complicated for users.

24 points by nkassis 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm just waiting for the backroom deal between the two that will allow two way sharing between only them.
16 points by RoyceFullerton 8 hours ago 2 replies      
"I recognize that once itās been imported to another service, that service may not allow me to export it back out."

I could see how this could scare the average user into thinking their contacts are moved from Google to facebook and stuck there, thus loosing their ability to use them within Google's products.

Do you think this is the intention?

8 points by ukdm 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Is this a new warning page that has been added following Facebook's actions, or one that has been around a while?
12 points by corin_ 8 hours ago 2 replies      
It's so nice of these two companies to be spending their time and money creating this great entertainment for all of us
2 points by chrischen 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Google should also point out that if Facebook lets you export your friends' emails then your friends can do the same to your email. And that if that happens one bad or compromised friend can give yours and everyone else's emails to spammers.

Same thing can happen with Google Contacts, but the difference is that on Contacts you give out your email. On Facebook you signup with an email and then you "friend" someone.

1 point by jasonkester 6 hours ago 8 replies      
As luck would have it, I picked today to set up a Facebook profile for me girlfriend. I'm now really angry with Google.

It used to be a 30 second task to sift through your address book and check off people to send friend requests to. Now, thanks to Google behaving like children, I need to figure out how to export her contacts as a text file so that I can upload it to Facebook.

Google, please stop.

You are pissing off your customers.

Edit: subsititure Users for Customers in the previous sentence if it helps you to parse it. The end result is still the same: The people who use Google's service are being punished by Google for the actions of a 3rd party.

3 points by scrrr 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting how the tide seems to turn. My Conspiracy theory:

I think Facebook might have gone to far with Facebook Deals. Now Groupon, its friends and other bystanders start to react less kindly to Facebook's business model: Copying ideas from other websites with nothing in return. Oh, well.

1 point by trevelyan 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Google is being silly. First because they're breaking the usability of THEIR own site out of an invented vendetta against a company that is just using the feature they created and made available. If they don't believe people should be able to export data from Gmail they should stop offering it generally and compete against other email providers with a more closed platform, not whine about reciprocity from sites that are not in their business.

Second because they are in the wrong. The last thing in the world I want is my friends on Facebook to be able to give MY email address to random third-parties in return for free virtual pets or whatever Zynga is giving away this week. Google's moralism would mean much more spam and a far worse experience with Facebook. My being a "friend" with someone does not imply permission to let them give my contact information to third parties. Who is Google to say otherwise?

1 point by illumin8 8 hours ago 2 replies      
The warning says: "Hereās the not-so-fine print. You have been directed to this page from a site that doesnāt allow you to re-export your data to other services, essentially locking up your contact data about your friends."

I think this is misleading - Doesn't Facebook allow you to download all of your data, just like Google? As much as I dislike Facebook's privacy policies, the mudslinging seems a little thick from both sides.

Facebook and Google - two of the biggest privacy violating companies on the planet. May you live in interesting times, indeed.

2 points by kwamenum86 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I am not sure if the back and forth between Google and Facebook is intriguing or just childish at this point.

Neither is doing this for the users. They are doing it to help their services grow and ultimately to help their bottom line grow. Believing anything else would be naive at this point.

4 points by atourino 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems to me that their wording pushes their anti Facebook data locking agenda, intimidating novice users. To me, this goes against their "don't be evil" company motto.
4 points by paraschopra 7 hours ago 1 reply      
"Select one or more options. Cancel and go back"

I liked this. So Godfatheresque!

4 points by joakin 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Fortunately this gives more info to average users about their data and what's happening with it

Maybe they will care some day ...

1 point by sdrinf 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Are there any publicly traded betting pool for this? I've got 10 bucks saying FB will open up their data silos (at least for Google) within the next 12 months :)
1 point by zoowar 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Ironically, control of personal data ends once the data has been shared, by you or any of your friends. Terms of Service often enable a company to collect and share your data as they see fit.
1 point by sssparkkk 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe google is trying to get facebook to open up now, so it'll be in time for everyone to be able to use it to migrate to Google Me.
2 points by janulrich 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It's great how they used check boxes to make the submit button appear. It makes it more likely that people will actually read the warning.
1 point by oemera 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a really clever move from Google and I think many people will read this and stop giving there data to Facebook.
I have a dump feeling about giving all of my data to Facebook cause they have sure enough.
Otherwise: it's free and they are making money with your data right?
1 point by pama 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I just used this link and saved my contacts, just in case this story leads to more dramatic actions. I also tested the register complaint button and, sure enough, my complaint was duly registered (though nobody explained what this means). Interestingly enough, I could have done both in one step, by checking both boxes and getting a long button reading: "download my contact information and register complaint".
0 points by gizmomagico 6 hours ago 2 replies      
This is such bullshit.

A service that won't let me "get my contact information out"? Nice way to frame this in terms of "openness" too, apparently riding "open" for all it's worth with Android is not enough.

Can I just "get out" all of my personal information from Google? No? Isn't Google "open" enough to let me do it?

We think this is an important thing for you to know before you import your data there.

Did you also think it was super duper important with a cherry and smarmy bullshit on top to let me know before you gave Facebook my GMail contacts behind the scenes when I was registering there earlier this year?

No, and I was disgusted when Facebook started suggesting them for "friends" right away.

0 points by dsplittgerber 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It allegedly registered my complaint without me being logged-in, so whatever they do, it's for show only?

This reeks of a cheap shot.

1 point by luckyland 5 hours ago 0 replies      
But does it work with Orkut?
1 point by eiji 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Facebook could allow users to "Opt-in" an email export.
If I'm not "Opt-in", only my name would be exported by me and my friends.

We all know that Opt-in is like "does not exist", but they could at least say they are open.

edit: They could even sell it as a privacy feature ...

-2 points by gabrielmazzotti 6 hours ago 0 replies      
jajajaja Gmail rules!
-2 points by wooptoo 6 hours ago 0 replies      
A big middle finger to FB.
-4 points by alain94040 7 hours ago 1 reply      
What bothers me is that Google is taking the stance that they have the right to lock my data in their service if they feel like it.

That's why that position, to me, is untenable. Don't do evil indeed: you just conceded the other side (Facebook) their main argument (that they don't have to be open, only if they feel like it).

Was the Wheel of Fortune One Letter Solve Really a Miracle? esquire.com
86 points by DanielN 4 hours ago   39 comments top 13
13 points by mechanical_fish 2 hours ago 1 reply      
My general impression is that the cryptographers routinely do stuff that's an order of magnitude more mind-blowing than this. [1]

More people need to read The Codebreakers.


[1] Alas, I just have to marvel, because for some reason my mind doesn't anagram well. I just don't have the knack. To me high-level Scrabble playing looks like a superpower.

21 points by thinkalone 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Most of the article is only worth skimming through, but don't skim so fast that you miss the kernel at the end ;)

> Sometimes, people who don't understand any better confuse the mundane with the divine, mistake hard work for lightning bolts. They couldn't pull off that same stunt, and so they convince themselves that nobody else could, either. Her brain can't possibly work that way, that fast. There's no way she solved that puzzle on her own. The game must be rigged.

> Or Burke has a gift, and she improved it with study. She practiced. She found the little edges and secrets that make large-size success possible; she did every last bit of the math. She earned her way to her place behind the wheel, and then, on that fateful day, in that particular pattern of rectangles and lights, she saw all that she needed to beat it.

15 points by nollidge 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Ken Jennings (the Jeopardy genius) has a blog post about this as well [1]. It seems to me once you start down the decision tree starting with "I'VE GOT" at the start, your average native English speaker should be able to get the right answer quite easily.

[1] http://ken-jennings.com/blog/?p=2250

10 points by bfung 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The Price Is Right article mentioned in this article is pretty awesome also:
4 points by wccrawford 3 hours ago 1 reply      
No, it wasn't. I looked at the still frame for about 20 seconds and got it myself, before I saw the video.

It just took a little logic about what words could possibly be in certain places, and the rest was filled in by phrases I heard in the past.

Edit: Don't get me wrong! It took guts for her to do that. If she got it just a little wrong, she gave the next person a LOT of hints and it likely wouldn't get back to her.

2 points by napierzaza 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
<quote>she immediately begins breaking it down into smaller pieces ā" "chunks," she calls them</quote>

I'm not sure you have to qualify that as something she calls them. I think a lot of people would call those "chunks".

2 points by shasta 3 hours ago 5 replies      
Apostrophes help you alot. I solved the following puzzle with no letters:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ' _

_ _ _ _

Category was "Thing".

(Err, formatting isn't helping. That's two words, with 9 spaces, an apostrophe and a 10th space in the first word, and four spaces in the second word).

1 point by AgentConundrum 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Even discounting all of the logic involved in this instance, people do occasionally just get lucky.

When I was in the fifth grade, we were playing hangman in class and my friend Chingfei managed to discern "White Men Can't Jump" from only two or three letters. An impressive feat, proven by the fact that I remember this 14 years later.

A "miracle" is really something with an extremely minuscule chance of occurring, but with enough trials you'll eventually get a positive result. Even the Biblical "water into wine" could happen under the laws of quantum mechanics, but it's an insanely long shot.

Still, in this case it was logic, not luck, that played out, since no rational person would just guess at solving the puzzle so early in the game.

2 points by Jach 2 hours ago 0 replies      
More letters is actually helpful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPsbY8LLVlY
2 points by Gimpson 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This American Life did a great show this summer which included a story about a man who figured out the pattern in the board on the 80's game show Press Your Luck and took them for a lot of money. Definitely worth a listen:


Now that I look at the rest of that episode, it also included some coverage of the Cambridge Innovation Center's Elevator Pitch contest, so all around a good listen for the HN crowd.

4 points by jonbishop 2 hours ago 1 reply      
She's got a great quote in there about luck:
"I really believe that luck is preparation meeting opportunity"
2 points by MBlume 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Followed the embedded YouTube video and was rather disgusted by the comments on it. Almost all suggested she cheated, and half suggested it in an incredibly disgusting/demeaning/sexist way. Is this what the broader culture assumes when a woman pulls off something clever?
1 point by dholowiski 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This sounds like the classic 'overnight success' (after toiling for years in obscurity) stories- a great lesson for all of us.
Using WolframAlpha to Hack Text CAPTCHA joelvanhorn.com
66 points by joelvh 3 hours ago   24 comments top 4
3 points by jluxenberg 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Was curious about the "text captcha" service. It's a collection of questions with MD5 sums of acceptable answers.

They provide an API, but I think this is a case of a project being a "service" to keep the database of questions from being free. There's no technical reason for this to be a service, and it's not a terribly complicated product that would be difficult to scale. It's a static database!

Might be neat to create an open-source bank of these CAPTCHA questions. Maybe I'll throw something together this weekend.

5 points by notyourwork 3 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a very interesting application of WolframAlpha but it appears to be purely luck when "success" was the result. Using things such as "2nd item in a..." or "7th digit in..." work in a lot of cases but lets talk about a few.

"2nd fruit in bear apple goat orange" would result in apple because it is looking for second in a list and neglects context of fruit.

"7th digit in abc123def456ghi789 " would result in d when it should be 7. Again not understanding context and merely looking at logical construction.

3 points by gojomo 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Some ALMOSTs could be turned into SUCCESSes with a few postprocessing rules-of-thumb, like:

- the CAPTCHA usually wants a single word or number

- the desired word is usually the rarer or later one

2 points by elliottcarlson 3 hours ago 1 reply      
After testing alternate versions of the three successes (to see if those were based on luck), only two remain to be successful; Changing "The 2nd colour in purple, yellow, arm, white and blue is?" to "The 2nd colour in purple, arm, yellow, house, white and blue is?" causes the question to fail.
Your eyes suck at blue nfggames.com
19 points by siim 1 hour ago   8 comments top 5
5 points by bradleyland 24 minutes ago 1 reply      
Ugh. We don't have an entirely clear picture of how our eyes physically detect color, much less how we perceive it, but there are serious problems with the argument the author makes here. You cannot simply take a color photograph of a scene, split it in to three channels, then point out that the blue channel is "dark and contains less detail" as evidence of our inability to perceive the color blue. The fact is that the blue channel really is darker because of the actual lack of blue light in the photo.

The trick here is that the areas that have a lot of detail (her face, for example) contain less blue. If you use a color meter to inspect the areas around the girls face, you'll find that there is less blue light present. That makes sense, considering that our skin doesn't contain a lot of blue pigment. This fact is exacerbated by the fact that the author overlaps the channel samples in a way that places emphasis on the areas impacted the most.

Basically, the author fails to understand the additive color model. We don't notice the pixelation of the blue channel in this photo because the result of the alteration is to introduce a low-contrast color in to the photo where the aberration overlaps: yellow. If you look closely, you'll see that the areas where you see cyan and magenta in the red and green channels are replaced by yellow in the corresponding blue channel alteration. The effects are diminished by two factors: there isn't much blue luminance present to influence the other colors, and yellow contrasts poorly with most of the colors in the photo where we notice it (the hood is white).

If you were to take a color-neutral photograph and split out the RGB channels, you'd perceive the same level of detail in all channels.

EDIT: I'd kind of like to take back that last statement about perceiving the same level of detail in all channels. I don't know that you would, but that's not the primary thing that bugs me about the author's argument. My main point is that his argument is flawed, not his assertion. I don't know enough about human color perception to make that argument.

4 points by rix0r 46 minutes ago 1 reply      
> This is how DVDs work: a high res green image and two low-res images, one for red, one for blue.

Not true. MPEG-2 uses the YCbCr colorspace, consisting of a high resolution Luminance signal (brightness) and a low resolution Chrominance signal (color). So in fact, all color information is subsampled, green is not treated specially.

1 point by jarin 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
That is pretty neat, although I'm not sure I understand all the outrage. "THE DVD FORUM IS STEALING OUR PIXELS!!"

If your eye doesn't notice the difference, are you being "bilked"?

1 point by olalonde 51 minutes ago 1 reply      
I wouldn't have thought so given that blue is the favorite color of most people[1].

[1] http://www.joehallock.com/edu/COM498/preferences.html

1 point by mfukar 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm wondering how much of this isn't an artifact of that specific picture; how do we know the RGB distribution in the original pic isn't skewed away from blue? That might explain why there's little information in the blue channel, right?

edit: no -> little

Netflix wins a longbet from 8 years ago. longbets.org
153 points by JustinSeriously 7 hours ago   44 comments top 14
8 points by drats 5 hours ago 4 replies      
Esther Dyson's bet "By 2012, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times will have referred to Russia as "the world leader in software development" or words to that effect."


The Computer History Museum gets $10,000 if she loses, I guess they should start planning an exhibit on old Russian computer technology.

But to be less smug for a moment why anyone would think this is beyond me. While the Russians did achieve significant technological advances in the 20th century, and implemented an impressive education system with regard to mathematics and computer science there are so many other factors which play into this. Namely Russia obtaining a score of 2.7/10 for corruption in 2002 from the Corruption Perceptions Index and sliding down to 2.1/10 in the most recent ranking putting them in 158th place. Further they are ranked 143rd on the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. India with 87th on corruption and 124th on economic freedom, not great, has plenty of English speakers and a more impressive computer science educational infrastructure, as well as being cheaper. The stories of people dying in Russian prisons after resisting corrupt government shakedowns are just horrific and I am not aware of any Indian equivalent. But I suppose if you invest there as she does, you need to talk it up.

8 points by cobralibre 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Maciej Ceglowski had a similar, if less grandiose, site called Wrong Tomorrow, but it looks like it's down:


I don't know if the site is only temporarily down, or if it's been abandoned, but it's a shame if the latter. The idea behind Wrong Tomorrow was chiefly to hold pundits accountable for their frequently bad predictions. You can read his site announcement, where he explicitly mentions sites like Long Bets and how Wrong Tomorrow differs from them:


10 points by icegreentea 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Reading the comments (I love that the years are written as 02002) this one particularly strikes me..

"...The net works differently than that... and Content owners have missed (and will continue to miss) it for 3 reasons: 1) Technophobia coupled with crippling ego (too cool to look dumb they fear the pipe) 2) Misguided content protectionism (go back and watch 'The Power of Myth'... again! It's the 'story' damnit!) ..."

This is 8 years old (and proven somewhat wrong), and we're still saying it, in some form today.

11 points by klochner 5 hours ago 0 replies      
David Peterson nailed it in the comments in 2003:

  NetFlix claims to have more than 13,500 titles and more   
than one million members. You order the movie on the
Internet, you just can't watch it until all of the bits
of the movie arrive. They just happen to be delivered
to your mailbox and you have to put the bits into your
computer or dvd player.

-- Posted by David B. Peterson on May 16, 02003 at 12:32AM PDT

7 points by chrisaycock 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"By 2010, more than 50 percent of books sold worldwide will be printed on demand at the point of sale in the form of library-quality paperbacks."

Vint Cerf challenges with, "At some point, laptop or smaller devices with high quality displays and suitable access controls for intellectual property will make the sale and consumption of books, sound and movies through these devices practical." He goes on to cite the "iPOD" as an example.


8 points by blaines 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow good find. I especially like this bet, Warren Buffett v. Protege Partners, LLC.

  āOver a ten-year period commencing on January 1, 2008, and ending on
December 31, 2017, the S & P 500 will outperform a portfolio of funds
of hedge funds, when performance is measured on a basis net of fees,
costs and expenses.ā


7 points by steveklabnik 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I like the RESTful urls, check out bet #1: http://www.longbets.org/1

We've got a while, but it feels like an appropriate bet.

6 points by antidaily 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Service Temporarily Unavailable

Cached version: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:cyGf1Tn...

4 points by alextgordon 6 hours ago 2 replies      
It's amusing that Eric Schmidt is the challenger on http://www.longbets.org/4 in light of Google's autonomous cars.
2 points by stellar678 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Is it just me or did this seem completely inevitable and kind of on the cusp by 2002? We were building fileserver-based VOD services just to save our Internet connection from the torrenting masses in shared housing situations around this time.

This seems like a risky one to bet against, at least from a technical perspective.

I suppose it is true that it was still a pretty open question whether anyone would manage to negotiate licenses with the media producers to do VOD, but Bell doesn't even touch on that issue.

4 points by blntechie 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I would love to see (or not see) how the predictor wins this bet,long bet making a decision and awards the stake.

āLarge Hadron Collider will destroy Earth.ā


1 point by herrherr 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Another proof that you may look like a fool when trying to predict the future (Bell's argument).

Also interesting in this context: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1887215

1 point by iwr 6 hours ago 2 replies      
For a foundation thinking ultra longterm, they have a flaky server.

"Service Temporarily Unavailable

The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.
Apache/2.2.11 (Ubuntu) Server at www.longbets.org Port 80"

1 point by rudasn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
now this is an interesting site!
Install Android 2.2 on a jailbroken iPhone over the air mobiputing.com
41 points by hardik 3 hours ago   5 comments top 3
1 point by ableal 22 minutes ago 0 replies      
Personally, I've been occasionally watching the efforts to put Android on the HTC HD2 (WinMo 6.5, left behind for 7). Seems to be going well, with reasonable battery life, etc. although not "over the air" install. Look up the XDA developers forums.
2 points by timmorgan 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Anyone know how well this works, I mean for real -- not just as something to play with?

Last video I saw of Android running on iPhone seemed very buggy and sloooow.

1 point by hasenj 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
nice, hopefully now I can try the 8pen thing
Dear Mom and Dad ... zachklein.com
46 points by callmeed 4 hours ago   17 comments top 8
21 points by edw519 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Nice, but still waaay too technical for my mom and dad...

Dear Dad,

My customers are small business people (retailers, wholesales, doctors, lawyers, etc.) who own computers that have replaced their file cabinets and some of their clerical employees. Those computers came with lots of stuff in them but need more as their business changes or they discover stuff they forgot. I upgrade their computers with the stuff they need. We call that stuff "software". They pay me. Well enough for me to buy you dinner Sunday night and take you to the Steeler's game. What do you say?


Dear Mom,

I sit in an office writing all day long. I have a fridge and a microwave and occasionally go out to lunch with people down the hall. When it gets cold I wear the sweater you bought me last month. I love what I do. I write stuff, kinda like Stephen King or Danielle Steele, but business stuff, not fiction. My customers love what I write for them and they pay me well, so you never have to worry about me again. I showed Uncle Lenny what I was working on and he thought it was great. I'll pick you up for lunch and a trip to the mall at noon on Saturday. See you then.


2 points by jakarta 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'd suggest that the author browse some of the old Buffett letters, you can get some good tips on how to communicate complicated topics to ordinary people:


5 points by akozlik 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Just wanted to say that's an incredibly slick approach at a sales letter. Rather than directing the letter to the consumer it's directed to Mom & Dad, which creates an audience to whom the concept can be explained in a simple manner. There are all sorts of emotional responses to this approach too, which creates warm and fuzzy feelings toward Boxee.

Well played sir.

1 point by mxavier 2 hours ago 1 reply      
It is unfortunate however that he indicates the problem is that most of the content he watches that isn't on user-generated sites is via Hulu or Netflix. As far as I know, Boxee currently does not support those two platforms. I'm not blaming boxxy as I'm sure there are complex legal/financial constraints at play, but imagine what a compelling product it would be with access to Netflix and Hulu content. Ideas like this should keep cable company CEOs awake at night.
1 point by martythemaniak 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I think boxee may just the best solution out there right now - it seems they've hit a sweet spot between the cheap-but-simplistic appleTV and the expensive-and-ambitious-but-half-baked Google TV.
1 point by roadnottaken 2 hours ago 0 replies      

Pretty slick website. The background video effect is pretty rad.

1 point by danio 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"available to buy in over 30 countries" ... leads to ...

"The page you asked for does not exist
You may have followed an out-dated link, or there may be an error in our service.
We apologize for the inconvenience."


0 points by pclark 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Boxee is literally one of my most favourite startups - right up there with Dropbox etc. Boxee has changed how I consume and discover media. It is incredible.
Flash Mob gone wrong ashitvora.info
78 points by ashitvora 5 hours ago   21 comments top 5
3 points by danw 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
Original source: http://www.tomscott.com/mob/. From the guidelines: "Please submit the original source". That's not quite the same as embedding something in your own blog and then submitting your own blog.

And yes it's fictional but plausable.

7 points by petercooper 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Get Tom Scott a slot at TED! He's a legend, and the same guy who ran as a pirate in the Westminster constituency at the last UK election.
22 points by wavewash 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm so glad this story is not true.
1 point by tvon 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't care for this, it reminds me of slapping an "e-" prefix on something just to indicate that it's now somehow "internet ready".

More to the point, people acting like idiots is nothing new, but I think we'd all still be shocked if this actually happened, just like we'd be shocked if any kind of gathering resulted in a riot and 23 people dead.

0 points by moskie 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I don't get the point of this.

Yes, it's possible. But so what? A person in the early 20th century could have constructed a similar boogeyman scenario involving those new-fangled flying contraptions: watch out! Someone can take a plane across the country to kill you in mere hours! Yea, and?

Optimizely (YC W10) helps raise $1.02 million for Haiti Relief with A/B testing whichtestwon.com
40 points by dsiroker 3 hours ago   8 comments top 4
4 points by marknutter 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Too bad that money will probably be mishandled and squandered like most of the donation funds have been so far.
2 points by trotsky 2 hours ago 1 reply      
How appropriate do you think it is to run a split test for a charitable campaign where the bulk of the donations will happen quickly and the opportunity for longer term optimization is low? Did the fund approach you because they were interested in a test or did you suggest it? How quickly did they adopt the winning candidate as their only version?

The article notes "this oneās a bit of a no brainer" and four out of five random people on the Internet predicted the optimized version. Given these facts, it's hard not to interpret the results as having cost a substantial amount of donation money by testing something the designer involved already knew the answer to.

Perhaps you could elaborate on the benefits to Hatians or the non-profit of running this test?

2 points by gxs 2 hours ago 0 replies      
>Please note: They didnāt measure form submissions.

That's a shame - It'd be interesting to know tidbits such as, which form had the highest donation per submission, etc.

2 points by dsiroker 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If you want to go directly to the results page without voting, here is the link: http://whichtestwon.com/haiti-fund-nonprofit-test?pollid=86
Help me start a FOSS Tithing movement gabrielweinberg.com
95 points by epi0Bauqu 6 hours ago   35 comments top 15
20 points by brianm 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Speaking as a long time open source contributor, it is even better to contribute bug reports (detailed, replicable), assistance to folks on the users mailing lists, and code (if you are able).

Donating money to open source organizations is great, as there is almost always some overhead, but contributing in kind is even better!

That said, if you want to donate money, here are links to donate directly to a few open source foundations, off the top of my head:




3 points by alanh 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Itās a wonderful idea. But wonāt this be sending most money to those who least need it ā"e.g. lots to the big projects, and none to the little guys who spend days to months a year, but no more, on small, lesser-used but valuable open-source projects? I would like to see those little guys get a bigger chunk.
6 points by tseabrooks 6 hours ago 9 replies      
I for one don't think this is a very good idea. Firstly, I'm reminded of Jeff Atwood's article in 2008 (http://bit.ly/d82uSD) where he talks about discovering that the open source project he donated $5000 to simply had no way to use the money.

More over, as a developer open source software has never sat well with me. I don't understand how it got so hip and cool. I don't understand why anyone would want to participate. I'm damned good at my job... but I don't do it for free for anyone... My time is too valuable and my friends and family deserve to have as much time with me as possible. I know I'm mostly alone in this around these parts... But maybe someone can explain why so many people give away their free time using their hard earned, and valuable, skills for free.

Though I do appreciate all their hard work, and I use open source products, I just don't understand why they do it.

1 point by macco 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
I like the idea. I written something an donating to open source projects myself: http://rockiger.com/en/blog/view/linux-users-are-software-pi...

Imo contributing isn't enough. First class software is (often) in need of fulltime first class developers.

2 points by lkrubner 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it is difficult to get these movements going among individuals. I think it is easier to establish this as a cultural norm among those businesses that make money from open source. If the goal is to raise more money for open source projects, then the fundraising will work best if it is some dedicated amount of a company's profits. I think the consumers of open source technologies would appreciate knowing that some tiny percentage of their funds go back to the projects that make it all possible. For instance, if every ISP (using open source software) was committed to sending .01% of their profits to the Apache Foundation, it would offer Apache a degree of independence from those who currently pay its bills, and I, for one, would be pleased to know that some of my money was going to the software that makes my sites possible.

The donations need to be automated as much as possible. At wpquestions.com we send out some small amount of money every month to the people who have created plugins for WordPress, whenever a question is posted about that plugin. The whole process is automated, no one needs to think about it. I think establishing this as a cultural norm throughout the open source community would help make the open source eco-system more vibrant. And lots of small payments from many small businesses probably allows greater freedom of maneuver (for the open source projects) than having a few big projects paid for by a few big corporations - simply looking at Oracle's handling of Java convinces me of the dangers of having all funding come from just a few sources.

5 points by psawaya 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems like a voluntary version of the "software tax" RMS wrote about way back in the day in the GNU manifesto (http://www.gnu.org/gnu/manifesto.html, see āProgrammers need to make a living somehow.ā)

I guess it never caught on then, but perhaps now that most software companies benefit in some way from FOSS, it makes more sense. At any rate, you deserve much props for making this pledge.

4 points by jrockway 6 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of employers will match your contributions up to some limit ($10,000 seems pretty standard), so if you do this, make sure you get your employer to match. You can actually get people to write some software with $20,000.
4 points by waxman 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This is an awesome idea!

I owe so much to FOSS it's not even funny.

It'd be nice to give something back (beyond bug fixes and my own, lame contributions).

3 points by bdr 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This makes more sense for individuals than companies. Startup get bought? Give 10% of your payout to the FOSS that helped you get there.
13 points by bhiggins 6 hours ago 2 replies      
you wanna use the word tithe then you're going to be brining in a lot of connotation baggage. not a fan.
1 point by Loic 3 hours ago 0 replies      
In the same kind of approach, you have 1% for the Planet. When you are part of the organization, like my company, you pay 1% of your turnover to one or more accredited environmental organizations each year. 1% for the Planet is not a middle man, they just control that you paid and allow you to use its label in your communication.


2 points by wzdd 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This sounds like flattr to me, particularly since they were going to set things up so you could repeatedly flattr the same sites (not sure if that's happened yet). Is there is a philosophical difference?
2 points by BornInTheUSSR 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Part of me thinks that if all the companies that exist and thrive thanks to open source did this, we would advance tech much quicker. On the other hand, maybe it is the constraints and passion alone that have kept the community at its present level of quality.
3 points by duck 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome idea Gabriel!
1 point by firdaus 5 hours ago 0 replies      
In a way, I think it's better for open source projects that need money to go the AGPL route. The way I see it with pledging is that you'd be getting companies that are already donating/contributing back to open source projects. Whether this will be more or less than what they're already contributing remains to be seen.
Hacker Monthly Breezed Past 2,000 Paid Subscribers hackermonthly.posterous.com
38 points by bearwithclaws 4 hours ago   20 comments top 8
7 points by maxklein 3 hours ago 1 reply      
So that would be a max of $15,363 monthly income or a minimum of $2,416.

Since he collected a year up-front, he has generated a max of $184,360 to a minimum of $60,755.

4 points by rrhyne 2 hours ago 1 reply      
It was difficult to find the main site from the posterous blog. Resorted to editing the URL to hackermonthly.com
3 points by spoiledtechie 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Im quite impressed. I never thought it would actually make it. Congrats guys!

I thought it would be just another side hack and be left to nothing, but surprisingly, it worked.

Now all you need is to hit Barnes and Noble Magazine Shelfs to hit it big. haha

4 points by mp3jeep01 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how many of those new subscriptions came from the AppSumo deal that they were a part of last month - I bet a significant number, which means they aren't full paying customers, because of the reduced rates on the deal.
4 points by smiler 4 hours ago 1 reply      
What's the split of digital / dead tree edition?
2 points by Tawheed 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Amazon.com lets you self publish. You should look into getting it into the Kindle store. I'd love to get it streamed into my iPad and read it on the Kindle application.
2 points by keeptrying 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a real example of crowdsourced publishing done right. Well done!
1 point by andre3k1 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I suppose this would be an argument in favor of the print industry not being dead.
Python progression path - From apprentice to guru stackoverflow.com
95 points by limist 7 hours ago   19 comments top 5
10 points by njharman 4 hours ago 2 replies      
The top answer seems to be for the question "How do I learn to program Python using only the functional style". Which is FAR from being a Python Guru. A Guru knows how to use Python for many styles and to mix them for optimal effect.

#11 "balance" is laughable based on the preceding ten.

Some things missing include:

  * properties (glaringly so)
* slots
* meta classes
* dynamic code generation / data as code
* emulating various types and the rest of __methods__
* know thy standard lib
* distribution setup tools, et al
* documentation epydoc, sphinx, docutils, et al
* profiling and performance

Also from the top answer.

"... Python class. Claim it could be "better" implemented as a dictionary plus some functions"

Um, that is almost all a Python Class is.

5 points by steveklabnik 5 hours ago 5 replies      
I'm really into the whole "code as craft" idea, though a lot of my thoughts on the subject aren't fully baked.

It seems to me that we're at a place with software where we were with, say, civil engineering in roughly 2000 BC or something. This date is horribly wrong, but what I mean is that we're building basic structures, and we're okay at it, but when we try to do anything larger, we're failing.

At some point, we'll be able to make larger buildings, bridges, and roads... but we're not there yet. It seems like the best path forward is to follow is to do exactly what early engineers did: an apprenticeship model. Yes, software is based in math, but so are bridges. We've got a better grip on the math now, and it does help us build modern bridges, but at first, we had to schlep along.

I'm starting to ramble slightly, so I'll cut this off. And as I said, this is only a half-baked thought... but I think this 'apprentice -> journeyman -> master' path is an intriguing way to move forward with software.

2 points by plesn 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The first answer is interesting but I don't understand step 10. Imperative is a model with state and deterministic sequence and Haskell constructs like state and IO monads form imperative DSLs (with some typing burden/advantages). I don't see why the strategy pattern is particularly interesting here (but I see why imperative structures like mutable arrays and associative arrays are interesting). I don't see either why I would especially forget all those design patterns outside of imperative code : for instance the presentation of Connal Elliot "Tangible Functionnal Programming" is a great exemple of the use a kind of MVC pattern precisely to avoid using imperative constructs.

For me at least, the balance lies more in the use of state (easy in python) or the cost of abstraction (no inling and TCO).

3 points by Kilimanjaro 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Learn to simplify and beautify.

We learn new tricks just to make our code simpler and prettier. As a side effect, we code faster and with less bugs.

2 points by Estragon 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is like saying you can be fluent in Japanese by learning the grammar and saying nothing about the vocabulary. Fluency with the libraries python offers is far more important than whether you express yourself imperatively or functionally.

That said, I'm off to the library to borrow a copy of Real World Haskell.

Speak to Search - HTML 5 speech attribute (speech recognition) tupalo.com
8 points by consti2k 1 hour ago   discuss
The Great Cyberheist nytimes.com
73 points by LANYC 7 hours ago   23 comments top 15
9 points by teye 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Shadowcrew was an awesome place. You could get pretty much anything there. The marketplace was built on reputation -- you'd send a new offering to the senior members, who'd review you.

The coolest guy there was MacGyver. He knew everything about everything. You'd ask for feedback on the new SSN cards you were selling and he'd casually drop that the SSA used band printers back when your card would have been issued, so there should be little marks here or there.

From what I could tell, he never profited from any activity there, but being a senior member and receiving goods for review, receiving credit card blanks and numbers was enough to put him away. By the time it occurred to me I could send him a letter in prison, he was already out.

Sure, he was indirectly contributing to illegal activity, but to a kid looking for fake ID info, he was a god.

6 points by blaines 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This article is long, but really good, it reads like a movie.

Gonzalez not only hacked computer networks, but also personal networks. He may not have been great at code, but he was definitely good at navigating social structures. Gonzalez was certainly a great hacker, but not necessarily good.

I'll be keeping my eye out for author James Verini in the future, this was a great read.

2 points by harpastum 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It seems odd to me that both 'can barely write simple code' and 'it is hard, if not impossible...[for Gonzalez] to conceptualize human growth, development and evolution, other than in the language of building a machine' are applied to the same person.

It seems that Gonzalez is not actually a talented cracker at all ā" he just found relationships with people that did. In that way, he's more of a standard crime lord than a hacker (using the NYT's definition of hacker).

1 point by illumin8 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
Awesome article - here is my favorite quote:

"They pulled Jamesās police records and found that in 2005 he was arrested by a Palmetto Bay, Fla., police officer who found him in the parking lot of a retail store in the middle of the night. The officer didnāt know why James and his companion, a man named Christopher Scott, were sitting in a car with laptops and a giant radio antenna, but she suspected they werenāt playing World of Warcraft."

4 points by LiveTheDream 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"He started to trust us...I was well aware that I was dealing with a master of social engineering and deception. But I never got the impression he was trying to deceive us."

This is the epitome of irony.

2 points by AngryParsley 4 hours ago 2 replies      
It was interesting to hear the government's side of the story. Yet again I'm convinced that the most proficient computer security experts are way outside the government. Gonzalez doesn't seem exceptionally competent. I mean the only reason he got caught was because he used a bunch of cloned debit cards in front of a cop. Yet for several years he managed to inform for the Secret Service and keep his crimes hidden.

I'm not sure the Secret Service realizes what message they're sending to criminals. Sure they punished Gonzalez for his betrayal, but they basically advertised, "If you become an informant, you risk getting a much much worse sentence."

3 points by clistctrl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to be a developer at Target a few years ago. This incident really made them realize how important security was. Things changed (though I can still think of a few holes) it's a lot LOT more tighter.
1 point by anon_for_this_1 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
Man, I hate hearing about someone so gifted throwing their life away. Can you imagine if he had gotten interested in stopping the spam epidemic? That would have been awesome.
1 point by TedBlosser 1 hour ago 0 replies      
wow, what an awesome read. I referenced the TJX hacks in a ton of customer presentations to sell Cisco's security suite, but never knew what happened behind the scenes. On one hand, he caused $400M in damages to his direct victims, but made a fortune for IT software/security companies by instilling FUD in enterprises across the globe.
4 points by marklabedz 6 hours ago 0 replies      
2 points by danielson 3 hours ago 0 replies      

Sabrina Rubin Erdely, "Hackers Gone Wild: The fast times & hard fall of the green hat gang," Rolling Stone, June 10, 2010, p. 64. http://sabrinaerdely.com/docs/HackersGoneWild.pdf

1 point by SabrinaDent 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Jacking the point-of-sale terminals was inspired - very elegant problem solving.
1 point by daten 6 hours ago 2 replies      
You can follow the google referral to see the article without logging in.


2 points by o_nate 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting that the guy was apparently not a good coder:

"He is not a gifted programmer ā" according to Watt and Toey, in fact, he can barely write simple code ā" but by all accounts he can understand systems and fillet them with singular grace."

1 point by iopuy 6 hours ago 0 replies      
First five pages, http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&biw=1920&bih=938&...

(google must be the referral for the links to work)

Battle of the Business Cards printingchoice.com
127 points by kmfrk 9 hours ago   53 comments top 23
27 points by jasonlotito 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Or, you could just go to a local print shop. My wife used to work at one before moving up in the world. Practically ran the place for the owner. Good quality cards, and if something was wrong, they'd fix it. You got to see the options before you made a choice, and much easier to get exactly what you wanted. Also, from what I see in the chart, you'd get it a LOT sooner then most of the places.
4 points by Anechoic 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Having ordered business cards from Vistaprint and Overnight Prints, let me make a couple of observations:

* Vistaprint had decent print quality, but IMO their paper quality left something to be desired. The biggest issue with VP (again IMO) is that their business cards are standard-sized, they are slightly smaller. It makes the card stand out a bit, but you have to decide if it stands out in a good way or a bad way

* I've used Overnight Prints for the vast majority of business cards. I've only used the "Value Cards" products (basically printed on a laser printer" as opposed to the offset press printing of the Premium cards. They use a very thick stock, and I often get positive comments on the "feel" of the card stock. At first glance the print quality looks pretty good, but upon a closer look you can see that the cards were printed on a laser printer (I presume that the offset-printed cards look better).

* The biggest 'gotcha' with Overnight Prints (at least the Value cards) is the color consistency - that is to say, there is none. They don't pay attention to embedded color profiles, and every order I've made the colors come out different. I don't mind too much because I know that my clients aren't comparing colors and I figure most of my cards either get scanned/transcribed into electronic address books and then put away, or get tossed out. But if you're someone who obsesses over the color consistency of your printed material, definitely stay away from the Value Cards (again I don't know if things are better with the Premium Cards).

15 points by kmfrk 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Mirror, in case HN or reddit breaks the non-WP Cache'd site: http://i.imgur.com/vokDd.jpg. (Again.)

Edit: Looks like it did indeed buckled.

3 points by nkurz 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The quality comparisons here are quite helpful, but the pricing isn't that useful. If you're willing to do a little digging, you can find 30-50% off coupons for the big guys like PSPrint and VistaPrint. Not sure if this is also true for the smaller places like Moo. Also, the prices dive sharply at larger quantities.

We're currently using PSPrint for business cards, and would agree with this assessment: "flimsy, but otherwise nice". For our recent order with coupon, we were at final price of $130 for 10000. If you are in the Bay Area, you can pick up for free from their warehouse in Emeryville.

3 points by jackowayed 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I just ordered 1k business cards from Overnight Prints in preparation for RubyConf. I was impressed by the quality, given how cheap they were. They were thicker than I expected.

My one complaint is that you either pay a lot for shipping or get them fairly slowly. (I upgraded one level from the bottom and it took from Tuesday to the next Thursday.) Even that shipping was expensive--it was $8 shipping plus $4 "handling". Others may be just as bad though.

Overall, I was quite happy. I paid $40 with shipping and CA tax for 1,000 high quality, double-sided color business cards thanks to a half off coupon I found on retailmenot.com.

And if you're coming to RubyConf, find me and I'll give you one.

3 points by neilk 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Given this information, I don't see how the author recomended VistaPrint in any way.

It looks to me like it's Moo for quality and speed, Overnight for price, and everything else is significantly worse in every dimension.

4 points by clistctrl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I've always assumed what you get is going to be about the same anywhere so price is the only comparison, but its great to see just how much worse the quality of vistaprint is.
8 points by yoseph 6 hours ago 0 replies      

This is a great piece of marketing. It provides me with some very useful information while selling me on your value prop.


2 points by brixon 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Your local print shop might not be printing their own business cards. My dad owned a print shop and he has been outsourcing the printing of business cards for over 10 years. He makes a little profit on outsourced cards (@$5 per thousand) and no profit on in-house printed cards. The only cards he prints in-house are car dealerships that have mass bulk with only the salesman contact information changing.
Now, he can help you pick the stock, ink and other options and will make sure the order/product is correct before you pay him, so there is some benefit to local.
6 points by davidw 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Seems like he's leaving money on the table by not linking those to the relevant affiliate programs.
2 points by mikeryan 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I have no relation to this company, but I've always been very happy with my cards from 4by6 http://www.4by6.com/ not covered in review
14 points by alinajaf 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Woohoo go us! (dev at moo)
1 point by mbubb 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Just got my new cards from zazzle today. Used them before and was happy but wish I had this info. Next time will try moo.

Question: what do others think about a large business card size. I like that because i inevitably jot something on the card when i give it to someone. The last example was that I was talking to a dogrun acquaintance about vyatta (ie the router project) and gave my card with the word 'vyatta' on it.

I have a minimal amount of information - name, email, google voice number as well as a small qr_code barcode which links to my online profile.

I think the oversized card (called a 'calling card' I believe) enables you to have a nice a mount of room for a graphic and room to write something.

3 points by thomas11 7 hours ago 4 replies      
The final recommendation based on cost is Vistaprint, when their price was $25 compared to Overnight's $9?
2 points by hedgehog 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Avery 8871, they look good and you can print a few cards when you need them (and change them when you want).
1 point by sbierwagen 5 hours ago 1 reply      
One of the winners in the shootout was Moo.

I went up to the top level page and searched on two sided, 50 count, whatever's cheapest business cards... and got four hits. All of them for Moo.


1 point by camtarn 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Funky and very useful website :) I had some cards printed out by VistaPrint a while back (using one of the free business card package fliers from an Amazon parcel) and was relatively impressed - having a stack of business cards with my name on them felt very professional to my just-graduated-looking-for-work self.

However, you'd think the creator of such a nicely designed site would spell check their copy: in the footer, 'compareproducts' has no space between words, and there's a misspelled 'annoucnements' on the front page :/ Also, the 'DIY Printing' link in the menu bar 404s.

1 point by blaines 4 hours ago 0 replies      

  "Error establishing a database connection"

1 point by PonyGumbo 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm glad that Vistaprint got the drubbing it deserves.
1 point by gallamine 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I've recently been ordering from Clubflyers. I got a batch of 4x6 cards and business cards. The price was better than I could find elsewhere and they did a great job. The cheap printing is glossy only though.
2 points by lowglow 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone know of a great print shop in San Francisco?
1 point by crgwbr 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I've never done business cards through Printrunner, but their Matte-finish postcards are super high quality
-2 points by shin_lao 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Off topic but when reading this article I couldn't help thinking about the famous business card scene from American Psycho.

Look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark!

Oracle's MySQL Blog: MySQL Licensing and Pricing oracle.com
14 points by nphase 2 hours ago   discuss
Why startups arenāt bothering to go public anymore realclearmarkets.com
42 points by cwan 5 hours ago   12 comments top 6
9 points by grellas 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Why startups arenāt bothering to go public anymore

As the cliche goes, "there's no percentage in it," at least for now.

These things do go in cycles and the current down cycle reminds me of the 1970s, when the public markets were in a shambles and it took almost a decade to recover. Technology had captured the public fancy in the 1960s and brokers were trumpeting the so-called Nifty Fifty (i.e., stocks on which you could never lose, such as IBM and Xerox), only to have the markets fall and fall hard by the early 1970s. Throughout that decade, then, the public markets featured primarily old-line industries/companies with low P/E multiples, with dim prospects for any form of startling growth, and with limited appeal for the mass of investors. Then, too, that decade featured economic malaise, 14% annual inflation, 18% interest rates, ultra-high individual tax rates, and an absence of vehicles by which individuals could easily participate in the public markets (e.g., no widespread 401k-type vehicles).

This all changed with the flowering of startups in the early 1980s, as Regulation D (1982) cleared the way for a healthy investment environment to get companies launched easily and as the macro-environment became more favorable to investors (low inflation, low interest rates, lower capital gains tax rates, etc.). Startups essentially changed all of world commerce during the next two decades (and beyond) and this led to the unparalleled growth of the NASDAQ as a repository for successful startups whose stock became liquid and freely tradeable. During the early part of that era, the barriers to going public were very low (e.g., little tech companies would go public in the late 1980s to raise as little as $2M). There was a cost to going public even back then in the need to file quarterly and annual disclosure documents, in the need to do formal audits, and the like, but these costs were minor in relation to the upside of gaining liquidity.

All this culminated, however, in the mania of the internet bubble which peaked in 2000 and this in turn led to countless junk offerings made to the public in order to capitalize on the frenzy. Essentially, worthless "concept" companies were offered in droves to public purchasers looking to get rich quick and these all collapsed when the bubble popped. This in turn caused a loss of public confidence in the markets and led to a new malaise from which we have never recovered. Add to that the catastrophe of the meltdown during the past couple of years and we will be lucky if we get any semblance of robust public markets again before perhaps another decade passes.

However, just as the low barriers of the 1980s, etc. led to some excellent outcomes for startups, followed by a speculative orgy and a collapse, so too the regulatory reaction to all this has gone to excess and is plainly limiting companies from wanting to go public. The article does a pretty good job of pointing out some of this excess and, regardless of details, the result is that only a very few startups can even begin to contemplate going public, with many not bothering to do so.

A few consequences of all this (affecting startups at all stages):

1. Most startups are forced to go the M&A route to get liquid and this in turn allows acquirers to low-ball on price and to squeeze on terms (e.g., more earn-outs, more gotcha terms, etc.).

2. The regulatory mindset (which I see as a reversion to 1970s-style thinking) is dominated by lawyer-like concerns and is by no means limited to public companies. For example, IRC 409A was passed to ensure proper valuation of options and other forms of deferred compensation. It now requires even the earliest-stage startups (which have been funded) to incur needless compliance costs by getting "independent valuations" at many stages where no one would have even thought twice about the subject before. Another example: the tightening up of requirements on who is an "accredited investor" - people were relieved when startups were able to dodge a bullet in the Dodd-Frank legislation concerning this issue but even that legislation opened the door to the SEC to add new rules and burdens in the not-too-distant future (efforts are already afoot, e.g., the NASAA is proposing that the SEC limit accredited investors to those who have $1 million in liquid investments - see http://www.startuplawblog.com/?p=650). It is easy to brush this sort of thing off but there is a clear pattern of reverting to 1970s style regulation and hence increasing barriers to investing, all in sharp contrast to what we have known in the recent past.

3. Auditing procedures have been affected by SOX to the point where even routine audits can run into six-figure costs for small companies. Public audits are now horrifically expensive, where even a small NASDAQ company can easily have such costs run up to close to $1 million annually.

4. Sitting on the board of a public company is now something of a menace. Therefore, those who make the key decisions whether or not to take a company public have a natural disincentive to wanting to go in that direction, quite apart from regulatory compliance costs.

The point is that there are now huge barriers, economic and legal, to going public - the exact opposite of the climate of the 1980s when we last busted out of a malaise and saw an explosion of companies availing themselves of the public markets. These barriers exist because of larger trends that took quite a while to develop and they will not go away soon. I am an optimist about this issue but also a realist. The problems will eventually be corrected but not in the short term. It will take considerable time.

17 points by T_S_ 4 hours ago 1 reply      
A few years ago, I invested in a small private company. I could call the CEO and he could tell me all his problems and prospects. I couldn't trade the stock very easily but I knew how the company was doing.

Then it went public. Suddenly the access to the CEO ended and the only information I got was from a 10Q. The company changed strategy to one that I didn't like, and I never got a good explanation.

Ironic that public = opaque, while private = transparent.

Our regulations are too much aimed at promoting liquidity and not at promoting correct valuations. We would be better off if investors were paid to make their horses run faster rather than switching horses in mid-race all the time. But they can't do this without real transparency.

5 points by krschultz 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not convinced a company like Facebook is avoiding going public because of SOX. Facebook has >2,000 employees and massive revenue, they can't afford to have a decent accounting department? Facebook is significantly larger and has higher revenue than the majority of publically traded companies.

And considering how many Facebook employees have stock, you would think they would all be clamoring for an IPO.

Facebook has a shockingly high valuation, perhaps they are afraid that if they IPO it will not match expectations during this economy. Better to wait until boom times and get great return on your IPO than do it now with stock prices depressed.

8 points by ceejayoz 4 hours ago 2 replies      
"Profitable, high flying startups like Facebook and Zynga don't bother going public anymore."

Aren't Facebook and Zynga widely expected to go IPO soon?

2 points by ig1 3 hours ago 1 reply      
SOX is the reason why pretty much everyone avoids going public in the US anymore. Many international companies that would have previously floated in NY now do so in London (which has now overtaken NY as the largest foreign equity market). The cost (typically in the couple of millions for a small company) is simply too high.
2 points by bigtech 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This strikes me as a good thing. For those who want the wild west, go to a private exchange. For those who want well-regulated companies, go to a public exchange.
TextCAPTCHA: 180 million simple logic questions textcaptcha.com
80 points by joshwa 8 hours ago   53 comments top 24
12 points by patio11 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I would be interested to see what the completion rate for this is versus, e.g., the Yahoo captcha. My intuition is "not that great." (You require reading on the Internet... uh oh.)

By the way, picking one token from the captcha and returning it beats the captcha 7% of the time, if the examples are representative. Spammer wins, since he can generate requests by the hundreds of thousands.

12 points by azim 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I tried breaking this captcha. Here are some experimental results and mathematics:

By applying the mathematics from the Birthday Attack (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday_attack), If an attacker is able to solve 15.8 million of the 180 million captchas, there will be a 50% probability that the attacker can beat the captcha.

I tried refreshing the page 10 times, generating a total of 100 captchas. Out of those, I observed 8 arithmetic problems which I entered into and solved using Wolfram Alpha. That gives roughly the 15.8m/180m necessary to break the captcha with 50% probability.

At 50% probability, again going back to the Birthday Attack mathematics, an attacker would need roughly 16.8 thousand tries before expecting a collision with one they could break.

This probability will increase if an attacker is able to successfully reverse-engineer more patterns.

Edit: thinking about this more after MichaelGG's comment, I think my math is incorrect. Either way, point still stands that Wolfram Alpha can successfully solve 8% of the captchas and other patterns should be solvable by other means too.

28 points by moxiemk1 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Since there are 180million of them, presumably they were generated with a computer. Then, it seems that they probably fit into a finite number of patterns. If these could be determined, wouldn't this be a rather easy to crack captcha system?

Most captchas depend on the difficulty of the reverse transform applied to an image, especially when you don't know what the transform is. Here, the forms seem pretty regular, and the "transform" of inserting words is discrete rather than continuous, so a bit easier to reverse.

12 points by nkohari 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I understand the importance of CAPTCHAs, but I wouldn't put anything that required a reasonable level of thought in between my users and something I wanted them to do (for example, buy something from me). The more complex CAPTCHAs get, the less likely users are to try to complete them.
24 points by amih 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Some of the questions don't have one globally unique answer, for example: which day is a part of the weekend, Sunday, Friday or Monday.
Where I live (Israel), Friday is part of the weekend, were as I bet the creator of the list lives in the USA and as many times happens, believes the USA==World and the "correct" answer is probably Sunday.
2 points by blahedo 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I've thought about this issue before (and proof-of-concepted a similar system, see http://www.blahedo.org/botblock/), and came to similar conclusions, but there's an important difference:

A crucial part of making this a successful anti-spam system is that it is a moving target. Every user of the system must be able to write their own questions. If that happens, the spammer's task is intractable. But if there is a central site serving these, it will be worth the spammers' while to just hardcode the patterns and write a little bit of logic to parse and answer them.

Now, there's a fair bit of interesting UI design in the question of "how do I get a non-programmer to write what is in essence a very small program". My proof of concept used some cute Perl-isms to basically construct a mini-language that was restricted enough that an inexperienced programmer could "script kiddie" their way through it, and I think this is the right general direction, but you'd need a fair amount of work to really make it accessible to the masses.

(Other crucial points that he gets right: it must be text based; it must have questions that hinge on natural language understanding but not be otherwise difficult; and it must have questions that are really question templates each of which can generate infinite numbers of question instances.)

4 points by binarymax 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Great concept, but some of the easier ones are very susceptible to an automated solve.

For example: "What is ten + 1?"
...in bing: http://www.bing.com/search?setmkt=en-US&q=What+is+ten+%2...
...in google: http://www.google.com/#sclient=psy&hl=en&q=what+is+t...

2 points by spc476 2 hours ago 0 replies      
At one point I was getting spammed through a contact form ( http://hhgproject.org/contact.cgi ) so I added two forms of a text based captcha---the first one is a single question (that anyone visiting that particular page should know) and a hidden field (via CSS) that should not be changed. I haven't received a spam since.
4 points by mitko 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Trying all the words in the captcha one by one has a big chance of "hitting" correct answer. If it doesn't a brute-forcer can just request a new captcha until it works.

Said that, they don't seem very spam-proof to me.

For more info about how hard CAPTCHAs need to be read Luis Von Ahn's papers:


4 points by megamark16 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Very cool, this is one of my favorite types of captchas, because I don't have to sit and squint at the screen trying to figure out what the heck I'm supposed to type. Is it an I, or a 1? Is it an S or a 5?
2 points by bjonathan 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Easy is not enough, Captcha need to be universal also.

For non native english speakers:

"Cheese, cat, mosquito, trousers, elbow and ant: how many body parts in the list?" or "Soup, dog, trousers, house, mosquito or pink: the colour is?"arent as easy as "3+1" or reCaptcha . Not everybody speak english on the interweb...

4 points by TamDenholm 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I know some people that would fail a few of these questions...
2 points by ComputerGuru 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Obligatory XKCD link: http://xkcd.com/810/

"Constructive Spam"

1 point by joshklein 4 hours ago 0 replies      
CAPTCHA (n.) - the outsourced laziness of your development team to your customers, in order to stunt conversion rates and signups so you don't have to be bothered to sanitize your own user lists.
1 point by dspeyer 5 hours ago 0 replies      
180 million isn't all that many. Keeping the answers in a database is trivial. Extracting the answers by trial and error is feasible. You'll probably want a large botnet to avoid getting blocked for suspiciously high traffic. If the servers can take an extra kqps or so, you should be done in about a week.
3 points by vladev 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I actually wrote something similar at http://stopam.com. Never been to brave to announce it officially.
1 point by Xk 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems to me that this wouldn't work. There are not so many different types of phrasings, so it would be fairly simple to write a parser generator which would then pass to a very basic interpreter to solve them.

For example, to solve the "Which of these is a T: W, X, Y or Z?" you would just put in a rule like "BodyPart ::= Foot Knee Leg ..." "DayOfWeek ::= Monday Tuesday ..." "Color ::= Red Blue ..." and then have it match against those.

Maybe the next time I have some free time I'll see if I can go and implement it.

2 points by bbest86 7 hours ago 2 replies      
The first letter in the word "titties" is?

Beware if you have users that might be sensitive to such things.

1 point by 9ec4c12949a4f3 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Lovely, but I could spend $500 and have the matching answers in a nice database I could resell.
2 points by flawawa2 6 hours ago 1 reply      
"Ten, 33, thirty five, 10 and thirty six: the 5th number is?"

10? Thirty? Thirty Six?

1 point by LordLandon 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It should probably have random words in all capitals in each question. The way it is, if a question has a word in all caps, that's the answer.
1 point by joelvh 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I played around with the demo page and used WolframAlpha to answer the questions for me.... With a little massaging, WolframAlpha would get you pretty far in hacking it.


1 point by fertel 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems as though there are very few patterns that repeat themselves in a different fashion.

For example - it would be quite easy to solve which word is capitalized - or any of the math or series questions.

1 point by Jencha 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This may have issues with non-native speakers. You have to know language fairly well to answer those questions.
Zencoder joins the Heroku Add-on catalog zencoder.com
33 points by brandonarbini 5 hours ago   6 comments top
2 points by stevedewald 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Awesomesauce. The more Heroku Add-ons the better.
Apache Foundation to vote down Java 7, protesting Oracle abuses arstechnica.com
59 points by abraham 7 hours ago   26 comments top 3
9 points by api 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Java is a great platform for long-lasting robust apps. It is invaluable to both the business and the scientific community, providing stable code longevity and long term reusability beyond any other current platform. It provides near-C++ performance too if you tweak your code a bit.

Yet here we are. Politics. Politics and business pissing contests. If they do ruin or derail Java, can you imagine the amount of lost capital? The amount of man-centuries of work that would at the very least now have to be ported?

Of course, I don't think that will happen. The momentum is too large. But it could, and the fact that you have a bunch of salesman-type assholes threatening to destroy billions (or more) in value in order to measure the length of their dicks is sickening.

Politics is sort of like farting. Yes, everyone does it. Yes, it is normal. But it smells, and the people who do it a lot are kind of gross.

8 points by moron4hire 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Oracle is succeeding in a few short months at a task that Microsoft (through malice) and Sun (through incompetence) failed to perform in over 15 years: the killing of the Java platform.
3 points by vessenes 5 hours ago 2 replies      
A question I have found myself asking recently is: "Why not a fork?" Can someone explain to me why Apache shouldn't just rename Java to, say Jive (okay, bad example) and proceed with putting out its own certification tests?

All Jive code could at the beginning run on JVM 6, and later the Jive VM would be the place for new feature development.

Google would get behind this, I bet. Many developers could be induced to stick with the free, Non-Oracle version of the world, especially this year.

So, what am I missing?

How To Land a Job at Google fairsoftware.net
54 points by alain94040 7 hours ago   15 comments top 5
11 points by ryandvm 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This always seemed like a sensible approach - so I tried it. I'll let you know if it works...


(To save you the click through, it's a project of mine that combines Google Scribe with an Android keyboard. It's definitely alpha quality, but the concept is there.)

3 points by btilly 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This advice worked for Feross Aboukhadijeh, see http://techcrunch.com/2010/09/24/youtube-instant-instant/ for proof.

However most applicants would be better off brushing up on basic algorithms and CS stuff that most people have forgotten.

4 points by GFischer 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think this is the best advice for everyone:

"How would I become a VC? By being one: pull some of my own money, invest it in startups, and build my track record. Thatās how. I canāt imagine any other way."

I can definitely imagine another way - the way I suppose the people that went to the event being discussed ("how to become a VC.") might have in mind: learn the ropes from someone experienced, learn what's needed (lots of legal, economical and technical stuff I didn't even know existed before reading stuff like the A VC blog http://www.avc.com/ ), learn from their mistakes and successes (and no, I don't think the Internet is a good enough substitute for the actual experience).

1 point by HackyGeeky 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Great advise, unique perspective. Gives me an idea for interview questions as well. Thanks.
1 point by littledanehren 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess telling Google what they should be doing differently might work, but I wasn't really prepared in my interview to give them advice. Still got accepted, though.
Life Hack - The 30/30 Minute Work Cycle Feels Like Magic chetansurpur.com
340 points by chetan51 20 hours ago   120 comments top 30
49 points by edw519 19 hours ago 6 replies      
The concept is excellent, but the ratio doesn't work for me.

I prefer 42/18.

42 because it is the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe, and Everything:


and 18, because it is the Gematria for the word "life":



If I'm going to adopt a system, my inner nerd insists upon increasing efficiency by using components with multiple purposes.

35 points by DanielBMarkham 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I did 50-10s for many years -- and was productive as hell doing it.

I think the numbers vary depending on the person and the project, but absolutely, having the discipline to push away from the desk and change context puts your productivity in warp gear. It works by allowing you mind to work on the problem while you play.

By the way, to let another secret out of the bag, this process of engineered distraction also works very well with teams.

Many times we confuse stubbornness with determination. Sitting there staring at the screen does not a work product make.

But I'll add one caveat -- the reason I got away from this (and am now only getting back to it) is because the internet itself has become the "getting away" activity. This leaves you at your desk checking emails, updating twitter, etc. In such a case, you're not allowing your subconscious to work on your problem at all. Instead, you're throwing a bunch more stuff at it. So in retrospect I think its critical to physically detach yourself from your technology. A stand-alone game would be fine. Sitting at the terminal listening to your email and IM chimes while you play a flash game would not.

EDIT: It's also interesting to note how hard it is to pull away from your work -- both when you're loving it and when you're hating it. I don't think it's ever easy, but after a while you get into a "rhythm" and it all just kind of flows.

24 points by ojbyrne 19 hours ago 1 reply      
If you're flexible about the second 30, I find this works really well with working from home, because the second 30 can be typical personal chores. Wake up, work for a bit, then make coffee. Work some more, then eat breakfast. Work some more, then have a shower. Work some more, go for a walk. Etc, etc. Sometimes 5-10 minute breaks, sometimes an hour or more.
15 points by jamesjyu 19 hours ago 5 replies      
People who know my previous comments might think I sound like a broken record -- but, this is the exact reason why I love having a table tennis table at the office. It's the perfect distraction to coding that focuses on pure reflexes and hand-eye coordination.

After a game of ping pong, my mind is usually cleared and can tackle the next problem. Lots of +1's to the idea of zoning your brain out of the problem area for a while to get your subconscious working.

16 points by gcv 18 hours ago 9 replies      
For people who do something like this: how do you manage logistically? Do you set an alarm? Do you just know when your 30 minutes (or 42, or 50) are up? Do you always keep an eye on the time? I'm curious because the concept seems like it could work, but I lose track of time easily.
17 points by hackoder 14 hours ago 0 replies      
The real magic? Learn your body/mind's rhythm. Sometimes you'll do productive work for hours. Sometimes you'll need frequent breaks.

Intrinsic (type of work, work environment, deadline, depth) and extrinsic factors (such as food, relationships, etc) will affect this rhythm and you'll have to be smart enough to realize when to respect your body's wishes and when to ignore them (feeling bored may have to do with not getting enough sleep, or maybe you just feel like procrastinating. Learn to figure out which).

14 points by JoelMcCracken 18 hours ago 1 reply      
For a long time now, I have wanted to code in a cabin in the country.

Just imagine going outside and chopping wood, hauling it back in, and setting your fire correctly. I can hardly imagine a more ideal alternative activity to coding for that second length of time.

11 points by dpatru 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This just reinforces the suspicion I've had for some time now that time working is not tightly related to accomplishment, especially if the work is intellectual.
3 points by JimmyL 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I did an hour-on/hour-off cycle when I was in school studying for exams each semester, and it was great. Working for an hour meant that I could nail a solid two concepts, and then go do something else for an hour, and then come back and spend an hour on some practice problems that used those concepts. I remember initially trying a shorter 30-30 cycle, but when a problem takes 20 minutes to do (by design) subbing out at 30 didn't really get much done.

I also found it let me work much longer. I'd get to the library at 10am, work one-on/one-off until 11pm or so, go home and watch a bit of TV, and repeat - for three weeks straight, only interrupted by days when I had actual exams, on which I'd do about four hours off after the exam and get back to work.

11 points by amanuel 19 hours ago 5 replies      
This reminds me the Pomodoro Technique. http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/

I bought a pomodoro iphone app and tried it for about a week or so, alas 25 mins was just too short for me.

I generally find 45/20 to be about right balance for me. I now use Vitamin-R (Mac App) to track time/goals.

6 points by andrewce 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I use this work pattern when I'm doing particularly distasteful work, and it generally works well.

The only thing I'd advise is that if you're in a state of flow (in which the passage of time just disappears and your focus zeroes in completely), don't worry about maintaining a rigid time schedule.

Every so often, when I'm writing, I forget to check the clock and then it is 3 hours later and I realize that I've missed a meal. I wouldn't trade those times for very many things.

1 point by sdizdar 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The concept is excellent. And here is what I use to achieve the exactly same thing: http://senadreport.com/post/1472323819/how-to-stay-focused
The ratio for me is maybe 15/45.
2 points by JimboOmega 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I really don't see how you can do this in a normal work setting. If I work for 30, take 30 off... an 8 hour work day takes 16 hours...

Even if I got 16 hours of work done in that time, it does not matter really to my employer, who would still see it as 8 hours. Because we bill by the hour, what matters is the # of hours that are worked, not how much work gets done in them.

That said breaks in a lot of tasks are immensely useful. I can't remember how many times I've given up after getting stuck on a work task to come in the next morning and figured it out in 30 minutes.

I wish productivity mattered more :(.

1 point by craigbellot 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Already using this. Can't stay off facebook for more than 30 min anyway...
1 point by egb 3 hours ago 0 replies      
For those who use Merlin Mann's (10+2)*5 ratio (http://www.43folders.com/2005/10/11/procrastination-hack-102...) and have an iPhone, check out my timer app for it:


5 points by nikster 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This is why smokers have a huge advantage. They go out for a smoke break every hour. Doing _nothing_ but smoking.

I will try this, sans the smoking, starting now. Goodbye.

1 point by khookie 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess any rational sounding justification will do eh - 30mins work and 30mins break? Gimme a break... you're wasting so much time it's not funny.

But I guess you are what you want to believe - http://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/october/willpower-resourc...

Not saying the principle is bad, you just need to make the reward significantly cheaper than what it is now.

3 points by topherjaynes 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Definitely, this model did wonders for me in Gradschool, but I am wondering if anyone has tried doing this in a corporate environment?
I just started my first gig at a large company. I take "walking breaks" to circle the block several times a day to clear my mind and people seem incredulous that I am not tolling at my desk. Wonder how they would feel if I was devoting 4.5 hours of my day to "fun."
1 point by rguzman 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the concept and I personally use variations of it. However, I find that 30/30 is not only the wrong ratio (1:1) but also the lengths don't work too well for certain types of activities. c.f. http://www.paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html
1 point by mkramlich 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like the key is to (1) really work when you're supposedly working (don't check email, don't read RSS, etc.) and (2) take breaks to refresh. Both of these are very old and well known techniques for maximizing health and productivity. Whether there's something magical about the 30/30 split, and forcing yourself to always switch hats like that, regardless of the actual specific situation: that, I'm not so sure of the general applicability of. I often find it takes me a while to get in The Zone, and when I'm Hot it's best to keep Pounding Out The Code and not force myself to stop and go play a game or whatever.
2 points by anon8712 14 hours ago 1 reply      
A question to all the excellent commenters here.
I work at a place where the company culture considers developers the same way as Macy's employees.
10 minute breaks for every 4 hours you work.
Surf the net, chat on IM, everything counts as work....except stepping away from the computer. Be seen away from your desk more than necessary, you get warned of 'not being available during core hours of business'.
I am a contractor and I get paid very well to care too much about the company culture.

My productivity is not the best but according to them, I am a star performer. I, personally can't sit longer than an hour without needing a break. I worked for startups with ping pong tables and one large workstation vendor that recently ceased to exist. I miss the culture at those companies.

The company culture where I work has gotten to me, where I am considering leaving my contract to focus on my personal projects.
What would you do?

3 points by adorton 19 hours ago 1 reply      
This sounds like an interesting idea for personal projects. My boss might raise an eyebrow if he saw me playing games or surfing the web for half of my day.
1 point by manish 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Definitely worth a try. I am concerned about my discipline to come back to work after playing a game for 30 mins. May be playing TT would be better idea, since I feel playing physical games refreshes me more that video games.
1 point by tnt128 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I use a similar pattern, but instead of 30/30, I do 75/30, here are the reasons,
1. I need at least 5 to 10 mins to pick up what's left.
2. Work without distraction never happen(people talk to you, have to open the door for someone, answer the office phone etc). If that happens, I need another 5 mins just to remember I was doing.
3. My productivity picks up after the initial 20mins, and it lasts about 45 to 60 mins.
4. A few things could happen after 75mins of coding a) feature done or bug fixed - checkin code, git push. done take a break b) encounter a problem, internet searching - stop and take a 30 mins break, helps a lot. c) starting checking facebook, hacker news, email etc - stop and take a break. d) feature is not done, and I have not encountered a problem - this is the only time I might not take a break, but every time I didnt, I found myself ended up checking email and facebook a lot :)

30/30 sounds great, for me, 75/30 give me enough time to finish a feature or fix a bug.

1 point by javan 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I would really like a timer app that blocks social, distracting sites during the work sprint so I'm reminded if I start to stray and then unblocks them during the rest.
2 points by seejay 14 hours ago 0 replies      
up voted for the statement: "Time is now my bitch" :D

The idea itself sounds pretty awesome too... will definitely try it.

1 point by MarkNederhoed 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The great debate: Do you start with 30 minutes of twittertime or do you start your day working?
1 point by Void_ 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know if I could get back to work easily after 30 minutes on Facebook or playing World of Warcraft. Probably not.
1 point by Dramatize 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm going to give this a try for my after work side projects.
-1 point by devmonk 19 hours ago 6 replies      
To start with, the author says he switched to Colemak keyboard layout. Interesting, but about as useless as Dvorak. Unless you get everyone to switch to it, you will be disabled whenever you switch to someone else's computer, a kiosk, etc. Why bother?

He mentions having switched to biphasic sleep. If he said- I don't use electricity at night and just go to bed and wake up with the light, then if he got up during the dark hours, that's fine. But scheduling it and forcing your body into a strange deprived sleep pattern is bad for you. Napoleon slept ~4 hrs a night. He was successful for a time, well- except for attempting and failing to conquer the world. Poor decisions may not have been made with more sleep.


So, that leads us up to the 30/30 work cycle. This actually doesn't sounds that bad. But, it is totally not something that would work in a professional setting. When you are in the middle of an important meeting with the board, or working on getting a product feature out that day, you can't walk out of the meeting or walk out on your team to go play video games. I take time out periodically for a walk, but seriously- grow up.

Running Shells in Emacs: An Overview masteringemacs.org
72 points by twampss 9 hours ago   22 comments top 7
7 points by technomancy 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Little-known fact about Eshell: not only can you implement your prompt functions and highlighting in lisp, you can also (a) pipe output directly to buffers and (b) invoke M-x commands from the shell:

a) $ ifconfig > #<buffer interfaces>

b) find-file README.txt # same as doing C-x C-f

3 points by e40 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Based on comint, M-x su:

  (defvar explicit-su-file-name "/bin/su")
(defvar explicit-su-args '("-"))

(defun su (&optional buffer)
(and current-prefix-arg
(read-buffer "SU buffer: "
(generate-new-buffer-name "*su*"))
(if (file-remote-p default-directory)
;; It must be possible to declare a local default-directory.
(setq default-directory
"Default directory: " default-directory default-directory
t nil 'file-directory-p))))))))
(setq buffer (get-buffer-create (or buffer "*su*")))
;; Pop to buffer, so that the buffer's window will be correctly set
;; when we call comint (so that comint sets the COLUMNS env var properly).
(pop-to-buffer buffer)
(unless (comint-check-proc buffer)
(let* ((prog explicit-su-file-name)
(name (file-name-nondirectory prog))
(startfile (concat "~/.emacs_" name))
(xargs-name (intern-soft (concat "explicit-" name "-args"))))
(apply 'make-comint-in-buffer "su" buffer prog
(if (file-exists-p startfile) startfile)
(if (and xargs-name (boundp xargs-name))
(symbol-value xargs-name)

3 points by jfb 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I know I should be using eshell, particularly now that daemon mode is "stable" on OS X, but there is a lot of unlearning involved when grep pops up a result buffer. Why, yes, as a matter of fact, my beard is grey.
3 points by rayvega 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are on Windows, another alternative is running PowerShell as an interactive shell within Emacs:


4 points by chrismealy 5 hours ago 1 reply      
How did I not know about M-x ansi-term all these years? Argh!

(Thanks for the link)

2 points by ivanstojic 5 hours ago 0 replies      
+1 definitely! Thank you for a great and refreshing info on shells! I've been using eterm only since I started using Emacs about three years ago, and didn't even know about ansi-term and friends.
1 point by jedbrown 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone here use M-x term? Is it stable?

I've been put off by M-x shell because it only offers "line" interaction, so bash tab completion doesn't work. M-x term looks much better, but "ls /usr/bin" stalls the output part way through with my cursor off in the middle of the screen until I type a character in char mode, and I see stuff like

  error in process filter: cd-absolute: /hom/: no such directory
error in process filter: /hom/: no such directory

in messages. Is this sort of thing endemic?

Tir: A Mongrel2+Lua Micro-Framework sheddingbikes.com
107 points by helium 11 hours ago   49 comments top 11
5 points by jgalvez 9 hours ago 2 replies      
"NO TESTS. You must work at a startup."

LMAO. You have to hand it to Zed Shaw sometimes...

Now, seriously tho, this has been waiting to happen since forever. I always knew that when the right people started messing around with Lua, awesomeness would emerge.

Lua is the closest scripting language to C. It's faster than Python, Perl and Ruby[1]. It's not just faster, but also uses less memory. It's also extremely elegant (in language concepts[2], at least -- not too much of a fan of its syntax but whatever). But the fact is, apps running in Lua would be hard to beat in terms of single-node performance. Your $20 cloud box that struggles to keep hefty Ruby processes running (or even Python processes, though these are way smaller than Ruby processes) will suddenly be able to handle a lot more than it does today.

I think Lua for instance would make a lot of sense for the big ones: Google, Facebook, Twitter. Google has a lot of C++ code on its infrastructure[3]. Facebook resorted to C++, Java, Python, and Erlang[4]. Twitter took the Java path with Scala.

The more I build applications (and keep them running), the more I respect the Unix nature and the more I want to become proficient in C. Mastering a scripting language and knowing how to glue it to raw C, or something close to C, gives you a lot of power.

Imagine a Python+Lua stack, where you can have handlers written in Python and use small, specific Lua-based extensions to run complex computations. I'm already contemplating using something like Lunatic-Python[5] to accomplish that in an app where I have to create similarity-based clusters. Today the Python code that handles it takes about 15 minutes to run as a queued, background task. I'm very curious to see if I can bring that down with Lua-based code controlled by Python...

[1] http://shootout.alioth.debian.org/u32/which-language-is-best...

[2] http://www.lua.org/history.html

[3] http://www.quora.com/Ben-Maurer/Google-Infrastructure/answer...

[4] http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/facebook-work-nuts-bolts-techno...

[5] https://github.com/dmcooke/Lunatic-Python/blob/master/docs/l...

13 points by jgalvez 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Dear Zed Shaw, can you change the <title> tag of your posts to the actual post title and not the blog title? Always annoying to have to change it when I save your articles to Pinboard. But most of all, it's annoying because it's like, just wrong, dude! :D You can also tell me to go away and that's it's your blog and you keep it the way you want to. (That's fine too.)
12 points by swah 11 hours ago 4 replies      
"The problem with Lisp is that it is acceptable to metaprogram until the only person who understands what you've created is you and The Flying Spaghetti monster."

Yeah, I guess this is sad but true. But as an alternative should I stop using macros and write lots of repetitive code?

4 points by iampims 10 hours ago 2 replies      

    I needed something real because you cannot build
a useful web server in a vacuum.

Iād even go as far as saying that you canāt build anything in a vacuum. This is my main gripe about many sample projects for web frameworks. You get the traditional and useless hello world and the blog engine in 20s. Yet none of them highlights how to decouple your app, how to deal with non mundane stuff (security, error handling and reporting). Most of us, when learning about a new framework, have many years of experience with other frameworks, so why not try to sell us on how your framework is different and better suited to the real world situations weāre facing.

3 points by chriseidhof 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Good stuff, I think Lua might be an excellent choice for this. Now for some shameless self-promotion: a year ago I posted a Haskell solution to the Arc Challenge, which might be even more readable for non-programmers: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1004701
1 point by meric 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Very interesting...

Made me jot down a non-mini, non-existent web framework I think I might like to use.... It's only just a tad bit more compact than Tir and will take a lot more effort to implement... but (I hope) it is much easier to tell at a glance what it is doing. Must find time for building my own web framework some day.

Corresponding Arc Challenge: (cheated a bit, if you want to make this 'proper' you'd need to add a cookie, and maybe another function.)

  require "filter"
require "form"
require "response"
require "route"
said_form = form.default { saying = form.charfield() }
function said_page(args)
return response.http(said_form.render())
function said_click(args)
return response.http(
([[<a href="javascript:document.write(%s)">click here</a>]])
route.set(filter.get, "^/said/$", said_page)
route.set(filter.post, "^/said/$", said_click)

Login / Logout

  require "filter"
require "template"
require "form"
require "widget"
require "response"
require "route"
require "generic"
require "css"

login_form = form.default({
username = form.charfield(),
password = form.charfield{widget = widget.password}

function login_form:clean(args, data)
if authenticate(data.username, data.password) then
return true
args:set_error(self, {'username or password is incorrect'})
args:set_data(self, args.post)
return false

function login_check(request)
if request.session['user'] then
return nil, response.redirect("/")
return filter.get(request)

function login_page(args)
return response.http(template.default.render_with {
head = css.link("my.css"),
body = login_form.render()

function login_auth(args)
if login_form:clean(args, args.post) then
return response.redirect("/")
return login_page(args)

route.set(login_check, "^/login/$", login_page)
route.set(filter.post, "^/login/$", login_auth)
route.set(filter.any, "", generic.not_found)

3 points by cageface 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool hack. I really like what I've seen of Lua so far. It would be great to see it become more viable for web work.

I think Zed's right that web applications are more and more constructed in terms of interfaces than pages.

3 points by dangoor 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The idea of process-per-interface is an interesting one. My first thought was that this has the "PHP problem" which is to say that if you have a bunch of useful utility classes and helper code you have to optimize those to minimize loading. In a framework like Django where an app is reused between requests, you can have a lot of useful framework available at your fingertips.

My second thought was more interesting than the first, though: Tir shows the value of Mongrel2 (or, at least, Mongrel2's approach). You can use the process-per-interface structure in places that make sense, and use Django-esque structures elsewhere.

Of course, Mongrel2 is not the only way to do it and there are sites like Amazon where they take the approach of packing the results of many requests to separate services into a single page, rather than having a single process be responsible for the page.

I find that these days the hardware's good enough that most apps that people create never make it to the "scaling problem" anyhow.

2 points by jules 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Beating the ArcWTF challenge:

    page '/said' do
form do
message = input()
submit do
link("click me"){ text("You said #{message}") }

Show this to a non coder and I'm pretty sure they'll recognize more than if you show them the 40+ lines of his Lua version.

5 points by nakkiel 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Programming languages are about manipulating concepts. Give that Lua code to someone who doesn't have the necessary concepts (views, regexp-based routing, framework, dynamic websites, ...) and he'll be lost.

This rant just shows that the mighty Zed doesn't have the necessary concepts (and neither do I) to understand the Arc bit.

Edit: and obviously, reading the docs would help in this regard.

2 points by mhd 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks interesting. I found Lua to be a wonderfully predictable language, both regarding semantics and syntax. Which is quite nice, in an age of decorators, macros and weird histories (looking at you, JavaScript).

As opposed to Zed, I would say the same about Lisp, though (if you're a mature programmer, who went beyond the first excitement about macros).

       cached 10 November 2010 22:26:31 GMT